WILMINGTON — Anda Union, a world-renowned ensemble from China’s Inner Mongolia, is visiting Clinton County as part of Arts Midwest World Fest — the band’s only stop in Ohio.
Anda Union’s music comes from the vast grasslands of Inner Mongolia, where various ethnic nomadic tribes have lived for centuries. Anda’s music includes a fascinating combination of instruments such as horsehead fiddles and vocal styles such as throat singing in a performance not unlike one Genghis Khan himself may have heard.
Anda Union will provide a workshop at the Wilmington Public Library at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 20, and it will perform a public concert at the Murphy Theatre at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 22. Tickets to the Murphy show, made possible with help from Southern State Community College and the Tom E. Dailey Foundation, are $10 at the door.
The group held a musical workshop Tuesday at Clinton-Massie; other workshops will be on Oct. 19 at Southern State Community College and at East Clinton; on Oct. 20 at Cape May Retirement Village; and on Oct. 21 at Denver Place and East End elementary schools.
Anda Union formed in 2000, and the group members describe themselves as music gatherers, digging deep into Mongol traditions to keep familiar songs alive while also unearthing forgotten music. They are on a mission to stimulate their culture and re-engage young Mongols, many of whom no longer speak their own language.
“Most of the band members have been playing together since childhood,” said band member Nars. “As adults, we studied professional vocals and instruments together. We are like a family. Ten years ago Anda Union was forged, and we haven’t looked back.”
Anda means a “blood brother or sister.” For Mongolians, an anda is more important than a birth brother because one chooses a person to become an anda — a life-long blood brother. Anda Union is a brotherhood of andas. Anda Union offers audiences a rare opportunity to experience and enjoy music the world has only recently begun to know. The ensemble has toured widely with stops at major universities and cities across the United States.
Wilmington has already hosted two Arts Midwest World Fest groups: Aysenur Kolivar from Turkey visited a year ago, and Baladino from Israel visited earlier this year.
“We’re so fortunate to have these groups coming to our community,” said Maretta Alden, executive director of the Murphy Theatre. “The groups not only perform a public concert but most of the week they are in the schools and other community locations sharing their culture through workshops. I’ve listened to Anda’s CD and watched a fascinating video about the group and can’t wait for them to get here. It’s not often smaller communities like ours have the chance to host international ensembles like Anda Union at all — let alone for a full week.”
According to Alden, Clinton County typically would not have the resources to host week-long residencies of the kind Anda Union will offer. Arts Midwest, one of six U.S. Regional Arts Organizations, partners with program sponsors such as the National Endowment for the Arts and 3M to cover a substantial portion of the program cost so that communities throughout the Midwest can enjoy this rich arts experience.
Wilmington was selected as one of only nine Midwestern cities to host the 2015–2017 Arts Midwest World Fest and is the only partner community chosen in Ohio.
“It’s a real honor to be part of this program,” said Eileen Brady, a member of the Murphy Theatre board of trustees. “The music and culture Anda Union will share is so different from what we normally get to experience locally. People won’t want to miss this incredible opportunity.”
Arts Midwest’s goal is to make meaningful and lasting impressions on the communities that host this program, said David Fraher, president & CEO of Arts Midwest.
“We think week-long residencies can offer so much more than one-day visits,” Fraher said. “There are more opportunities to truly connect with each other whether through workshops in schools, concerts in the greater community, or through social gatherings. We want this to be a rich experience for the entire community.”